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Offer to repair Cardiff flats welcomed by residents

A long-running battle over fire safety defects at an apartment complex in Cardiff Bay has moved a significant step closer to resolution after an offer by the developer to pay for remediation works by the developer was welcomed by residents.

Tests conducted at the Celestia complex of 450 flats in 2019 in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire found serious problems with fire barriers and insultation. The buildings were identified as high priority in the Deed of Bilateral Contract (DBC) signed between Welsh ministers and housebuilder Redrow in 2023.

Now the company has agreed to fund the repairs, with work going out to tender in July and starting in early 2025. Residents represented by the Celestia Management Company Ltd (CMCL) welcomed an offer to ‘address the fire safety defects and non-fire safety external façade defects at its own expense’.

The offer came six months after intrusive investigations by architects, fire engineers and structural engineers representing each of CMCL (and leaseholders), Redrow and contractor Laing O’Rourke confirmed the existence of defects originally identified over five years ago. The investigations were undertaken in the course of High Court proceedings between the parties. CMCL said: ‘Those proceedings are currently outstanding and will continue pending further clarification by Redrow of its offer and in relation to other issues.’

The Building Safety Act 2022 makes developers liable for defective buildings constructed up to 30 years ago and covers a wider range of defects than the life-threatening fire defects specified in the DBC.

CMCL said: ‘We are, therefore, particularly pleased to see that Redrow has expressly accepted liability to repair non-fire safety defects as well as eschewing arguments used by other developers in Wales and elsewhere about the precise definition of “life-threatening”.

‘We understand Redrow’s intention is to continue to seek an indemnity in respect of the costs of the work from Laing O’Rourke, who built Celestia for Redrow. However, we have been assured that resolution of the outstanding legal claim will not delay the work. Redrow has already provided for the costs (which we estimate to be around £20 million) in its accounts and will finance the cost from its own resources.

‘It has taken far too long but it is a very significant step. Although there are some important omissions in Redrow’s offer, we believe these can be addressed satisfactorily with goodwill. We are – and always have been – ready to move forward to facilitate with the remediation of Celestia at pace.’

However, the target completion date for the works is early 2027, which it said would leave leaseholders facing three more years of disruption and unable to sell.

In a statement to the BBC, Redrow said: ‘We have recently written to the management company outlining our proposals to undertake fire safety works to the external building facade as defined by independent fire safety experts.

‘Once we receive the management company’s agreement to these works and confirmation they will grant the necessary access licences, we will progress the project with expert remedial contractors as soon as possible.”

‘This accords with our commitment under the Welsh government’s deed of bilateral contract, which we signed last year.’

Welsh Government said: ‘We were pleased with the positive outcome between Redrow and Celestia Management Company that happened in a meeting facilitated by the Welsh government and look forward to progress being made.’




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